We are in difficult times in America, with more darkness than light in our near future. Just as the world is getting violently complex, we — who could be the leaders for peace and justice — are fighting amongst ourselves.
Fundamentalism is always rigid and damaging. Religious fundamentalism, whether Islamic or Christian or any other, is always harmful because of its spirit of judgment. Political fundamentalism, such as is perfectly demonstrated by the Tea Party and its ilk, is much the same: Clinging to a tiny handful of Right Answers, it proclaims itself absolutely right and therefore condemns all others as absolutely wrong. Our political institutions, therefore, offer no hope because the politicians are gridlocked by mutual blame-games.
At one point, the Bible calls Satan the accuser. Fundamentalists like to cooperate with the devil in that role.
We have long been sure that education is the hope of tomorrow. But we have so loaded our schools with social tasks (in the near absence of families doing their job), that our elementary and secondary schools are spread too thin to accomplish much. And our universities have been badly crippled in at least three ways. One, state schools no longer deserve to be called that because the states have so drastically reduce their support. Two. the sciences require that professors spend a large portion of their time writing grant applications, with the result that they are able to pay less attention to students and are always beholden to the business world. Three, we have long since come to thinking of universities as mere training schools for increasing one’s lifetime earnings. A liberal education — once the jewel of the western world — is almost impossible to get anymore.
The business world, which does a great deal to make the world go ’round, has come to be dominated by such unbridled greed that business leaders such as Dimond are takers, not givers. The advertising and marketing branches of business devote many millions of dollars each year to training us to be consumers, twisting human values beyond recognition. We do need to thank God for the few exceptions among the wealthy leaders such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet who know how to make money (which is fine) while also trying to serve that which is right and good and true.
Well then, how about religion? Any hope there? Many observers note signs of trouble within the churches, too. Mainline denominations are rapidly losing members while fundamentalist are becoming bent into a political subculture. There are still thousand congregations that are well and stable but they, of course, are not the kind to gain headlines.
Whatever one may think of Christianity and its people, there is one characteristic that has been proven countless times in history: By the grace of God, renewal is always just a step away. God is the source of perpetual hope for that renewal and the source of the renewal itself. And so long as there is such hope for the church, there is hope for the culture which surrounds it.
The church must awaken to its foundations in faith, hope, and love. We trust in God, hope for his justice to prevail, and love all peoples with grace and patience.
Our Manipulator-in-chief, who takes office on January 20, will fight tooth and nail against justice, integrity, honesty. We need to counter that by so entrusting ourselves to our Lord that he can restore us to our beginning: the image of God. Godliness, the quality of being like God in character, is our power.